Skaters will flock to Sheffield in three weeks with hopes of earning a British Ice Dance title, and the youngest competitor to skate there is determined to put her best foot forward for the city.
At just nine years old, Lillie Pang is the youngest skater preparing for the British Solo Ice Dance Championships at iceSheffield, organised by the National Ice Skating Association.
Lillie is putting in extra hours on the ice ahead of the event which kicks off on the 12th July, and will welcome 115 other skaters from all over the country.
Having moved her training to Sheffield over a year ago, Lillie is determined to do the city proud as the youngest skater at the championship.
Now Lille spends 15 hours per week training there with her coach and former World and European Championship competitor Mark Hanretty, who many may recognise as a professional skater on the TV Show ‘Dancing on Ice’.
She began skating at just two and a half years old, gaining special permission to undertake the Skate UK ‘learn to skate’ programme, which is aimed at five years and above.
At age five Lillie was the youngest skater at her local club in Nottinghamshire and competed at her first competition.
She won her first medal aged six, following in the footsteps of her older sister, 12-year-old Alana who is currently ranked first in the preliminary section of Ice Dance.
Now Lillie, who recently moved up an ability level, is perfecting her skating, and her smile, for the judges in July.
Mum Caroline said: “I’m very proud of both Lillie and Alana - Lillie is not concerned at all that she’s the youngest competitor next month.
“She would love to win but as long as she’s done her best she’s always happy. She doesn’t stop smiling when she’s on the ice – especially in the judge’s direction!
“Both Lillie and Alana would love to find a skating partner and go as far as possible skating as a pair.
“At the moment Lillie’s younger brother Clarke, who is just three, acts as her skating partner. He does his best and she adores him but I know she’d like to find someone she can compete as a pair with. As would Alana.”
Both sisters have dreams of following in the footsteps of Olympic legends like Torvill and Dean and Nick Buckland and Penny Coomes, who have competed in the last two Winter Olympics.
But for the moment Lillie is keeping her feet on the ground, saying she wants to do her best and represent the city she loves to skate in.
She said: “I’m really excited for the competition next month. I listen to my music all the time – especially when mum is doing the washing up.
“I feel really happy when I’m skating and I love practising with my coach, Mark. He says I am an Ice Princess.
“Before a competition I eat cakes. I feel like the more cakes I eat, the better I skate.”
With the bar being raised each year, Lillie and her sister Alana will face some fierce competition at the British Championships.
Coach Mark Hanretty said: “both Lillie and her older sister, Alana, are a pleasure to teach.
“Their commitment to the sport is ideal for long term success and I sincerely hope that they’ll go on to compete and perform around the world in years to come.”
The British Solo Ice Dance Championship goes ahead on the 12th -16th July at iceSheffield, and spectators and families are welcome to watch Ice Dancers in action. Entry can be paid on the door at £5 per adult and concession prices for children.